Although a pretty small island, Sri Lanka is famous for its wildlife, history and beautiful beaches.
The country has one of the densest population of Asian elephants in the world and is famous for its high number of leopards which could be seen in some national parks.
Wildlife and nature lovers found Sri Lanka as a paradise and plan their trips across the island all over the year.
Sri Lanka is considered a year-round destination, with good weather and warm days all year.
Depending on the time of year when you plan to visit the country, there are different parts of the island with dry weather and sunny days.
Because the parks are spread all over the country, the best time for Sri Lanka safari is different depending on the national park chosen.
When planning your trip to Sri Lanka keep in mind that the country has 2 main monsoon seasons.
In the southwestern part of the island, the rainy season is from May to August and the dry season is from December to March.
On the north and east part of the island rainy season lasts from October to January and the dry season is from May to September.
So, when planning a safari in one of the national parks Sri Lanka you should have a look where it is located and based on the monsoon seasons described above and your holiday period adjust your trip accordingly.
I mean don’t go to a park from the north part of the island in the rainy season! Choose one from the south part!
The highlights of Sri Lanka safari is seeing the leopards and the Great Gathering of the elephants!
Now, let me tell you exactly when is the best time to visit Sri Lanka for seeing leopards in Yala National Parks and the Great Gathering from Minneriya National Park.
Leopards in Yala National Park and the best time for Sri Lanka safari
Sri Lanka has the densest population of leopards in the world.
Although very shy animals, leopards could be spotted in Yala National Park during your safari, especially early in the morning.
There are 2 daily safaris in Yala National Park: one in the morning and another one in the late afternoon.
We strongly recommend the morning one because the animals are more active and you have higher chances to spot leopards.
The morning safari starts at 6 a.m. and lasts until 9 a.m. I know it is very early but worth it!
Spend the night at Laya Safari because it is close to the park entrance and offer clean rooms and a great breakfast!
From Laya safari to the park there are just 10 minutes of driving!
So, you will be among the first ones in the queue!
When is the best time to go?
Based on the island climate and the location of Yala National Park, the best time to go on a Sri Lanka safari for leopards is between December to March.
So, pack your clothes, binoculars and sun hat and go see these magnificent creatures!
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Great Gathering from Minneriya National Park and the best time for Sri Lanka safari
Minneriya National Park is located in the north-central part of Sri Lanka and is famous for its large number of elephants.
Besides elephants in Minneriya National park, you can see deer, buffalo, many species of birds, peacocks and monkeys.
The park is a year-round destination because of its large number of wild animals and many elephants, but July and August are peak season thanks to elephants Great Gathering.
Do you know what is the Great Gathering?
Let me tell you! In the centre of Minneriya National park, there is a huge water reservoir.
July and August are the driest months of the year. And elephants love water!
So, during these two months, all the elephants from this park and from the neighbouring areas come to the water reservoir to drink water and to bathe.
Hundreds of elephants could be found around the lake all year round but during July and August, their numbers are really impressive.
It is the biggest elephant gathering from all over Sri Lanka.
It is incredible scenery which should not be missed.
Minneriya National Park like all the other national parks from Sri Lanka has 2 daily safaris: one early in the morning and the other one late in the afternoon.
Both are really interesting and a very good opportunity to spot wildlife.
We recommend that you book an overnight stay somewhere close to the park because it is stressless and more comfortable.
We chose to spend our night at Sorowwa Resort because it is close to the national park and the price-quality ratio was very good.
So, the answer to the question of when is the best time for Sri Lanka safari is:
- For spotting leopards in Yala National Park is December to March
- For the Great Gathering in Minneriya National Park is July and August
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.
You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.
Don't forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.
We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.
Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.
We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.
Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.
We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.
Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.
Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.